Opinion: Ski resort should not use fake snow

"In March 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco halted a plan by the Arizona Snowbowl, a small ski resort operating on federal land on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona, from using treated waste water to make artificial snow. The reason: the San Francisco Peaks are considered sacred by more than 13 Native American Nations who say the use of waste water would destroy and desecrate the land and violate their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Sadly, however, the 9th Circuit agreed to rehear the case.

But why does the Arizona Snowbowl need to make artificial snow?

According to the "Climate History of Flagstaff, Arizona - 1950 to 2007" by Richard Hereford, Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey Flagstaff, since 1985 the annual snowfall for Flagstaff was below 100 inches per year for only 9 out of the last 23 years. What's alarming is that 7 of those 9 years have all been since 1999. Although the report noted that a long-term trend of accumulated snowfall is not evident, it did say that Flagstaff is becoming warmer and drier.

Could the reason for the lack of snowfall be that we are way out of balance with nature? The Snowbowl is next door to Flagstaff, which has mushroomed to 57,000 residents, more than doubling in the last 30 years, and is up the road from a US smog leader, Phoenix/ Scottsdale, with its 70 golf courses sprayed with herbicides and pesticides."

Get the Story:
Suzy Chaffee: Arizona Snowbowl should go green not gray (Sedona.Biz 12/11)

More Stories:
Appeals court set to hear case over snowmaking at Ariz. Snowbowl (AP 12/11)
Re-Hearing for artificial snow (12 News 12/10)

Relevant Documents:
Court Order on Rehearing | Petitions on Rehearing

Earlier Decisions:
9th Circuit Panel (March 12, 2007) | District Court (January 11, 2006)

Approval Documents:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for Arizona Snowbowl Facilities Improvement | Forest Service Approves Snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl

Relevant Links:
Save the Peaks Coalition - http://www.savethepeaks.org
Coconino National Forest - http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/index.shtml

Related Stories:
9th Circuit to hear San Francisco Peaks case (12/10)
Appeals court to rehear sacred site case next week (12/3)
Appeals court to rehear sacred site case (10/18)
Bush administration appeals sacred site case (6/4)
Viewpoints: 9th Circuit ruling on sacred site (03/26)
Editorial: Court 'misguided' on sacred site case (3/21)
Hopi Tribe humbled by court victory on sacred site (3/15)
Letter: Hualapai Tribe hypocritical on sacred (3/15)
Tribes welcome court decision on San Francisco Peaks (3/14)
9th Circuit blocks snowmaking at sacred peaks (3/12)
Ruling awaited on snowmaking in sacred peaks (02/01)
Confrontation over ceremony at sacred peaks (1/31)
Southwest tribes to continue fight for sacred site (11/14)
Tribes hopeful after court hears sacred site case (09/19)
9th Circuit hears from tribes in sacred site case (9/15)
Tribes press sacred site case before 9th Circuit (9/14)
9th Circuit to hear sacred site case on Thursday (9/13)
Southwest tribes go to court for sacred site (9/6)
Navajo Nation appeals court ruling on snowmaking (02/28)
Tribal coalition to appeal ruling on sacred peaks (1/13)
Judge allows snowmaking in sacred Arizona peaks (1/12)